Penn wrestling had a jam-packed weekend, competing on both Saturday and Sunday on the road.
Traveling to Fairfax, Va. for the Patriot Open on Saturday, a few Quakers found the podium, led by sophomore heavyweight Ben Goldin’s third-place finish. On Sunday, Penn traveled to No. 3 Penn State to take on the reigning national champions, but fell 33-7.
Competing in a sold-out event, the Quakers (0-1) were handily vanquished by the Nittany Lions (3-1). However, there were some bright spots in the group, with sophomore captain Anthony Artalona winning his matchup by a score of 5-2.
“I think we didn’t really give up at any point. We were pretty offensive, although things weren’t going our way," Artalona said. "But overall, I think we battled hard this weekend and the big takeaway is to be confident against some of the best guys in the nation."
On Saturday, Goldin led the way for Penn at the Patriot Open. Coming off a seventh-place finish in the Keystone Classic two weeks prior, Goldin continued his success this weekend. Starting off with two consecutive 2-1 wins, Goldin lost by a 2-0 decision in the semifinal to Army’s Ben Sullivan. However, he easily dominated his opponent in the third-place match, winning 5-0.
Sharing in this success, freshman John Stout also started powerfully. After a first-round bye, Stout won his first match of the day, 11-5. In the quarterfinals, he narrowly edged Gardner-Webb’s Jah'quan Anderson in an 8-7 decision. However, an injury in that contest would see Stout end his day in fourth place via a medical forfeit.
Senior captain AJ Vindici also had a successful day. After winning the first two rounds by four-point margins, Vindici earned a quarterfinal berth, only to lose to American's Salvatore Profaci. However, this loss set Vindici up for two wins in the consolation bracket, allowing him to win the fifth-place match by his opponent’s medical forfeit.
Rounding out the Red and Blue's podium finishers was senior Jack Conway. Although losing his first-round matchup, he found his way through the consolation rounds, winning three consecutive matches to give himself a shot at fifth place. However, he dropped the matchup in a 7-3 decision to come in sixth.
On Sunday, the Quakers traveled to State College, Pa. to take on Penn State in Rec Hall. Taking on the No. 3 Nittany Lions, the Red and Blue were well aware of the challenge that lied ahead of them.
Although the Quakers were defeated 33-7 by their in-state rival, there were some strong matchups and even competition. In the first bout of the day, No. 10-ranked freshman Michael Colaiocco started well against Penn State’s Brandon Meredith at 125 pounds.
With Colaiocco on top, 5-1, the match seemed to be decided. However, Meredith was able to quickly come back. With a pair of takedowns, Meredith jumped to a 6-5 lead and continued his success, ultimately winning 8-5.
The next few matchups were won handily by the Nittany Lions, who extended their overall lead to 14-0. However, fellow No. 10-ranked sophomore Artalona fought back. Taking on Penn State junior Bo Pipher at 157 pounds, Artalona was able to take a 3-0 lead after a minute of battling. Artalona’s strong defense and tactile attacks helped him to extend his lead to 5-1. As the clock wound down, Artalona was able to garner one more point to end the match in a 5-2 decision.
“Obviously, there are technical things we need to improve on. Learning how to wrestle in a big, high-pressure setting like that against some of the best guys is important," Artalona said. "I think we are just a young team and we need that experience there, which we will learn that as the year goes on."
The only other Quaker points on the day came from freshman Joey Slackman at 285 pounds. After jumping forward early with a strong takedown, Slackman was able to dominate Penn State’s Austin Hoopes. Continuing this dominance, Slackman kept attacking, ending with a 14-4 win.
“I look forward to seeing everyone bounce back from this one. Having wrestled some tough guys, I think we had a little eye-opener," Artalona said. "We know what to expect in high-pressure situations; we’ll know how to get it done."
Although the Quakers did not come away with any first-place wins, these victories are a sign of the strong, young talent on this team. The majority of Penn’s top finishers for this weekend were underclassmen, a sign of success for the upcoming years.
Next, the Quakers will go into a break, with their next competition coming at the Midlands Championships on Dec. 29.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.